Friday, January 26, 2007

Purity Series

We're now doing a series on purity at Covenant Life. In the last 3 weeks:
"God's Good Plan for Sex" considered a biblical view of God's good plan for our sexuality, and how we can flee temptation to go outside of God's boundaries.

"Resisting Lust" examined how lust deceives us and how we can learn to resist it.

"Marital Intimacy" discussed the role that intimacy in marriage plays in protecting men and women from sexual immorality, and a proper veiw of a husband's and wife's obligation to each other in marital intimacy.
For the next two weeks, the Purity series extends to cover the topics of holiness (this Sunday), and then issues related to media in our pursuit of holiness.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

West Coast Revival

Here's a band I've been enjoying lately.

West Coast Revival
grew out of our sister church in Pasadena, CA. Their first full-length album was recently released by UGG Records (you can buy it there). For more info, check out their interview on the New Attitude blog.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NA Promo Video--Update

Now it's on YouTube:

See Friday's post below if your church wants to promote New Attitude.

Friday, January 12, 2007

New Attitude Video

NA has posted a new promo video.

If you are a church leader who would like to use the video to promote NA at your church, you can request the promo DVD and/or promotional package here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Heart of Wisdom: Conclusion

"The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty...
So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom."
-Psalm 90:10, 12

Over the last week, I’ve been posting thoughts on Psalm 90, covering 4 characteristics of a heart of wisdom:

1. Stands in awe of the eternal God
2. Recognizes man’s insignificance
3. Acknowledges God as holy Judge
4. Runs to God for mercy

Every year, I make a list on a piece of paper, numbering 1-80. I use it to jot down milestones of God’s grace in the past, and look ahead and prayerfully consider what will be most important in the upcoming stretch of my life. I do know that I’ve got two driving priorities the next 15 years: to faithfully care for my family, and faithfully teach God’s word in this church.

I’d encourage you to do this, to sit down and consider where you are on your way to 70 or 80 years. Consider where God has brought you from. Consider how quickly your life will be over. Consider the holiness of God. How does that reality adjust your plans for 2007?

I don’t know what resolutions you’ve made (and which ones you’ve already broken) by now, 9 days into the New Year, but here’s something for consideration--How will we live this year if we number our days and have a heart of wisdom?

Here are some thoughts:

1. We will pursue satisfaction in God alone.

(Verse 14) What have you sought satisfaction in apart from God in the past year? When we see the fleeting nature of life, we see that knowing and being satisfied in the steadfast love of God is our greatest purpose. Let’s commit ourselves to being people who love and study and memorize God’s word. Let’s be people who pursue private communion with God. Who attend each Sunday meeting expecting to hear and be changed by God’s word. Let us be a people who pursue God in prayer.

[For those looking for a good Bible-reading plan, Discipleship Journal has a good one I've used.]

2. We will pursue holiness and cast off the sin that so easily entangles.

If we really see how short our time is on earth, if we see God in his holiness, would we make such allowance for sin? Verse 8 reminds us that there is no sin hidden from God. Where are you trifling with sin? Where are you harboring it? Where are you toying with temptation? Number your days and hate your sin. Flee from it.

3. We will be passionate about God’s work around us.

(Verse 16) If we number our days, our hearts are going to beat for the work of God in our local church. For the work of God in other countries. For the spread of the gospel.

4. We will spend ourselves for God’s glory.

Numbering our days doesn’t lead to timidity and fearful conservation of our life. It leads to boldness. To faith-filled risk taking. It leads to mountain-moving prayer. The missionary Jim Elliot said “Wherever you are be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God.” What season are you in? Live it to the hilt.

There’s certainly a place for caution...but not when it’s motivated by desire to preserve our comfort and advance our selfish desires. Let’s attempt great things for our great King this year! What if we worried more about the lost than our comfort? What if we spoke with humble boldness instead of remaining silent. What if we attempted what only God’s power could enable?

Consider v. 17—Only what we do for him will last.

5. We will be humble, grateful and joyful because of the gospel!

In Psalm 90, we see Moses looking ahead with faith for God’s future salvation. Friends, we have seen it. And it’s more wonderful than words can express!

When we number our days, we will be humbled and will live in holy fear of our Holy God, but we will also run to and receive and rejoice in the glorious salvation that He has provided for us in Jesus Christ. This coming year will be marked by toil and trouble. For some of us, it will be our final year on earth, but because Jesus has come we can have joy and hope in it. Because Jesus shed his blood as the perfect once for all sacrifice in our place, our iniquities have been removed from us and God’s wrath has turned to favor. He is for us!

Lord, teach us to number our days in this life. Teach us to long for the day when we see you. Teach us to live our life for you and your glory!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Heart of Wisdom: Runs to God for Mercy

"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom."
-Psalm 90:12

Today I post my 4th and final quality of a "heart of wisdom:"

A heart of wisdom runs to God for mercy.

In the past several posts, we’ve been discussing how short and insignificant our lives are, especially in light of God’s eternity. We have acknowledged God as our Holy Judge, sovereign over our lives, and filled with righteous anger toward our sin. Seeing death as God’s judgment on human sin is meant to humble us—but it needn't end in despair. A heart of wisdom sees that life is fleeting, that sin has earned God’s judgment and that only God himself can save us.

That’s what verses 13-17 of Psalm 90 model for us. Moses has been describing man’s frailty and God’s wrath, and then in verse 13 he turns to God and begins to plead for mercy. He says, "Have pity on your servants!” He doesn’t turn to entertainment or sexual pleasure or money or power or fame. He turns to God and cries, “Only you can give my life meaning.” He says, “You satisfy us, God, you make us glad, you reveal yourself to us. Unless you bless us, we have nothing and our lives have no meaning.”

God doesn’t want us to "number our days" so that we’ll be morbid and despairing. He wants us to number our days so that we’ll escape the illusion of human independence and pride. He wants us humble so that we can throw ourselves on him for mercy. He wants us to number our days so that we’ll forsake the fleeting and the meaningless, and live for his praise.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the key truth we need to take from this passage is this:

We can only live our days wisely when we see God clearly.

And when we see God clearly, we see how little time we have, and we see that pleasing and honoring him with our lives is what truly matters. We see that only in Him do we find satisfaction and joy, and only in the eternal God do we find eternal life.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Heart of Wisdom: Seeing God as Holy Judge

This is part 4 (and point 3—confusing already) on my series of posts on Psalm 90—learning to "number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom." I'm exploring 4 qualities of the "heart of wisdom." The first was that a heart of wisdom stands in awe of the eternal God; the second, that it recognizes man’s insignificance. For today, a third quality is this:

A heart of wisdom acknowledges God as Holy Judge.

It’s not enough to know that you’ll die. It’s not enough to know that your life will pass quickly. To gain a heart of wisdom requires that we rightly see ourselves in relationship to God. He is over us. He is our judge. He is the one who decides when we die.

Look at verse 3. It says of God, "YOU return man to dust and say, 'Return, O children of man!'"

Genesis tells us that God created Adam from the dust of the earth. And when Adam and Eve sinned against God and ate the forbidden fruit the punishment, all they and the rest of mankind received was death. Death returns man to dust. This wasn’t God’s original design. We were made to live forever in fellowship with God, but our sin ruined this plan. Our sin brought death into the world.

Verse 7 says, "For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed." Death is God’s judgment on human sin. It is God’s sentence on sinful mankind. It is God’s way of humbling us, of judging us for our attempts to usurp his authority. Death is divine limitation on human pride.

In verse 8, "You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence."

Acknowledging God as our Holy Judge is essential to being able to rightly interpret and understand life. Death points us to the reality of God’s holiness. He is a righteous judge who is angered by our sin. Death points us to our guilt before God. A heart of wisdom understands that’s man’s greatest need is to find peace with God.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Heart of Wisdom: The Insignificance of Man

If you’re just joining in, I’m in the midst of posting some reflections on Psalm 90, exploring how we can learn to "number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom" (v.12). We can only live our days wisely when we see God clearly, and this series of posts is covering four qualities of a "heart of wisdom" based on my Dec. 31 sermon on Psalm 90. In my last post, I discussed the first: "A person with a heart of wisdom stands in awe of the eternal God." The second quality of a "heart of wisdom" is this:

A heart of wisdom recognizes man’s insignificance.

Pastor James Montgomery Boice once wrote that Psalm 90 is "probably the greatest passage in the Bible contrasting the grandeur of God with man’s frailty." And what a contrast it is!

God exists outside the confines of human measurements of time. Verse 4 says "For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past..." A millennium, a massive length of time in human history, is like a day to him.

But we measure our lives in decades. Verse 10 points out that we’re doing well if we live 70 or 80 years. Compared to God, we’re like a gnat that lives for a day. Our days, Moses says, are "soon gone and we fly away."

It might not sound pleasant or uplifting to think about how quickly life is going to be over, but coming to grips with this fact is what it means to number your days. You’ll only have wisdom—you’ll only live skillfully—if you face the reality that human life is fleeting.

Have you ever noticed that one of the marks of maturity and wisdom is the ability to rightly perceive lengths of time? You know how some people have bad depth perception? Well, many people have really bad "time perception."

When you’re a kid you have zero time perception. I’m sure you parents out there have noticed this—you call your kids and say, "We’re leaving the house in 2 minutes!" and they say, "Oh, great. 2 minutes. Let’s get Monopoly out," or "Let’s build a tree fort." They have no idea how quickly 2 minutes will go by. If you tell them Christmas is in 8 days, it’s an eternity to them. "8 days! That’s going to take forever."

But the older and wiser a person becomes, the more he sees that life flies by. You see this when you look back on a season of your life that is past. Numbering our days involves seeing that human life is over in an instant. Do you see how this makes us wise? It points us to the fact that God is significant and man is not. It humbles us.

We like to live our lives in the delicious illusion of self-importance. We think of ourselves as strong, as powerful, as significant. We humans compare ourselves to images of greatness—mankind is like a mighty towering tree, or maybe a skyscraper stretching into the sky. Or man is like a huge rocket blasting into the sky leaving the earth behind as we conquer unknown corners of the universe...

But God picks other analogies to describe man. Verse 5 says that we’re like a dream. "You mean…like a really nice dream?" No, like a dream that you don’t really remember in the morning. It gets better. He says we’re grass. Not very flattering. "Like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers." Man at his most impressive is like grass that lasts for a day. It’s grows up in the morning but by the end of the day it has faded.

Last week we witnessed the death of a former President of our country and the death of the dictator Saddam Hussein. For two years Gerald Ford was the most powerful man in America. For decades Saddam Hussein held absolute power over millions of Iraqis. But now they’re gone. They’ve been "[swept] away as with a flood; they are like a dream." For awhile they’ll be remembered and written about, but very quickly they’ll be a distant and forgotten memory. So will we all.

Do you have great thoughts of yourself? Are you caught up in the legacy you’re hoping to build? Are you ignoring God as you live for your own glory? DON'T BE A FOOL. Man is insignificant. Life is fleeting. Wisdom comes from numbering one's days and seeing how small our time on earth really is in light of God’s eternal glory.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Heart of Wisdom: In Awe of the Eternal God

A couple days ago I shared that I yearly reflect on Psalm 90 in order to be reminded of and humbled by the brevity and unimpressiveness of my life. I also said I’d be posting on 4 qualities of the “heart of wisdom” we should seek to cultivate (v.12). These four qualities are based on this truth:

We can only live our days wisely when we see God clearly.

So then, the first point is this:

A person with a heart of wisdom stands in awe of the eternal God.

Wisdom doesn’t start with self-evaluation. It starts with worship. It begins by considering the character and nature of God.

That’s where Moses begins in verse 1 of Psalm 90. He’s leading a million people through the desert. They are nomads wandering without a true home. But he says, "Lord, you are our dwelling place." You are our refuge and you’ve been our refuge.

He goes on to consider God’s eternity. Verse 2 brings us before a God who is "from everlasting to everlasting."

The proper perspective comes from focusing on God. Moses and the Israelites really wanted a place to live. They wanted a homeland. They wanted a few mountains and some earth to call their own. But Moses remembers that there’s something far more significant—they worship the one true God who existed before creation, before the mountains were brought forth.

In the brilliance of the glory of the eternal God, Moses turns his attention to man...

(To be continued next post)

For a spoiler, listen to my sermon from December 31, which is the source of these posts.

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